Barclays dispenses with ATMs - and other user-unfriendly language

Barclays dispenses with ATMs - and other user-unfriendly language

Barclays Bank is dispensing with the US acronym ATM and other user-unfriendly language and practices as part of a major revamp of 1500 of its UK branches.

In an effort to make itself more accessible and to use language that is in common usage, Barclays will be redesigning over 1500 branches nationwide to make them more appealing to customers. The initiative is the first to be directly overseen by Deanna Oppenheimer, recently installed as the bank's new chief operating officer from Washington Mutual.

Under the revamp, the ATM will be replaced by the more colloquial 'hole in the wall', and deposit and withdrawal options relabelled as 'money in' and 'money out'. Customers entering or exiting branches will be greeted by new signs saying 'Hi' and 'Bye'. Rather than queuing for counter service, customers will be directed 'this way to counter service' and in personal banking areas invited to 'take the weight off your feet'.

Also outlawed will be black pens on chains, to be replaced by bright blue pens without chains which have messages to encourage customers to feel free not only to use them, but to take them home if they wish.

Jim Hytner, Barclays marketing director, said: "Banks have for a long time come across as unfriendly simply by the way they communicate to customers. The chain on the pen sums up the relationship banks have had with their customers for too long — basically we don’t trust you to leave this pen behind after you use it, yet we expect you to entrust us with your life savings. It’s about time we redressed the balance and made ourselves part of the twenty first century — and a free pen is a small gesture to show customers we value their custom."

Barclays has tested the use of its new language in five branches across the country, in Guildford, Bristol, Coventry, Bradford and Lewisham. Hytner says "93% cent of customers agreed that the new style of communication showed far better that Barclays understands its customers".

The roll out of the new tone of voice begins in earnest this month and will be seen in around 1500 Barclays branches across the UK by May 2006.

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